Caped cru­saders

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Sarah Knap­ton Science ed­i­tor

Cho­ris­ters in cloaks trudge through the snow in Peter­bor­ough ahead of the ser­vice at the cathe­dral. Else­where the weather caused chaos at air­ports and on the roads

‘There will be plenty of ly­ing snow plus the risk of ice in ar­eas which saw snow yes­ter­day’

SNOW caused chaos at air­ports and on roads across the coun­try yes­ter­day, with peo­ple de­layed and cars stranded as much of Bri­tain ground to a halt.

Flights were di­verted, de­layed and can­celled at Heathrow, where dis­rup­tion was blamed on planes hav­ing to be de-iced before take-off, re­sult­ing in a lack of “park­ing space” for in­com­ing flights. At the west Lon­don air­port, pas­sen­gers com­plained of be­ing trapped on a Bri­tish Air­ways plane on the ground for more than four hours with no in­for­ma­tion from the air­line.

Four Bri­tish Air­ways flights head­ing for Heathrow had to be di­verted to New­cas­tle, 300 miles away. The de-ic­ing process is be­lieved to have af­fected both out­go­ing and in­com­ing flights, with planes not able to land be­cause other air­craft were still in the stands.

Bri­tish Air­ways was in­un­dated with mes­sages from un­happy cus­tomers on so­cial me­dia, who com­plained of long waits on the tar­mac and no re­sponse on their cus­tomer ser­vice phone line.

The air­line apol­o­gised on Twit­ter for the “prob­lems and in­con­ve­nience”.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The air­port re­mains open, but we re­gret that weather across the UK is re­sult­ing in some pas­sen­gers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­rup­tion. Air­lines are re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing flights are fully de-iced before they are op­er­ated and this is re­sult­ing in de­lays and can­cel­la­tions.”

A Bri­tish Air­ways spokesman said: “Safety is our pri­or­ity, es­pe­cially when deal­ing with very chal­leng­ing weather con­di­tions. At times when we haven’t been able to op­er­ate flights into Heathrow as planned, we have been look­ing af­ter cus­tomers, pro­vid­ing re­fresh­ments and ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

Lu­ton and Birm­ing­ham air­ports tem­po­rar­ily closed their run­ways yes­ter­day be­cause of the snow.

Mean­while, on the roads, High­ways Eng­land blamed con­di­tions that led to mul­ti­ple crashes and stranded hun­dreds of cars on one of Bri­tain’s busiest mo­tor­ways on a lack of ve­hi­cles.

Traf­fic was brought to a stand­still on the M40 in War­wick­shire, with mo­torists com­plain­ing that they had not seen any grit­ters, and that the road had been left cov­ered in dan­ger­ous ice and slush.

Carl Palmer, a driver, said the mo­tor­way looked “like a war zone, with crashed cars ev­ery­where, others spin­ning around”, while Re­becca Matthews said the sit­u­a­tion was “sham­bolic”, with peo­ple forced to get out and push their cars up slip-roads.

High­ways Eng­land said that it had eight grit­ters pa­trolling but that there had not been enough cars in the morn­ing to ad­e­quately spread rock salt.

“There was a lot of snow, and the ac­tion of the salt re­lies on traf­fic. As it was a Sun­day and the emer­gency ser­vices were telling peo­ple not to drive, there was not enough cars for the salt to be ef­fec­tive,” a spokesman said.

The RAC warned driv­ers to ex­pect “Black Mon­day” this morn­ing as black ice brought treach­er­ous con­di­tions.

The worst snow­storms to hit Bri­tain for four years closed roads and schools, left whole towns with­out power and grounded flights over the week­end.

The Army was placed on standby and the po­lice urged mo­torists not to travel un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

Heavy snow­fall hit the Mid­lands, the Home Coun­ties and Wales yes­ter­day, lead­ing the Met Of­fice to is­sue an am­ber weather warn­ing, the first for such a large area since 2013. Trains were can­celled be­cause of points fail­ures and bus routes aban­doned.

Rail firms were run­ning “ghost trains” overnight to clear snow and ice, while Net­work Rail de­ployed its ther­mal-imag­ing he­li­copter and 34 de-ic­ing trains to keep tracks clear.

Up to four inches of snow was ex­pected across much of Eng­land overnight, while fore­cast­ers warned of dou­ble that in higher ar­eas.

The Met Of­fice also warned of dan­ger­ous rush-hour con­di­tions this morn­ing. Sarah Kent, a Met Of­fice fore­caster, said: “There will be plenty of ly­ing snow from yes­ter­day plus the risk of ice and black ice in ar­eas which saw yes­ter­day’s snow and rain.”

The en­tire town of Bices­ter in Ox­ford­shire lost power on Satur­day and Bices­ter Vil­lage shop­ping cen­tre was forced to close early yes­ter­day. Some 18,000 homes were re­con­nected af­ter los­ing power on Fri­day, Scot­tish and South­ern Elec­tric­ity Net­works said.

The Heart of Eng­land trust in the West Mid­lands ap­pealed for driv­ers to help af­ter hos­pi­tals were left with nurse short­ages. Mean­while, a cross-chan­nel P&O ferry bound for Dover with 316 peo­ple on board ran aground at Calais.

Snow flur­ries are ex­pected to con­tinue un­til Wed­nes­day and freez­ing con­di­tions are ex­pected to re­turn next week­end.

Clock­wise from main pic­ture: Glen Moris­ton in Scot­land; ve­hi­cles queue on the A417; chil­dren in Lon­don en­joy a day sledg­ing; queues at Heathrow; tug boats res­cue a P & O ferry that ran aground in Calais; and a camper van crushed by a tree

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